Magic, Mystery and Mentalism – a Moral Lesson

Inside MagicImage of Concerned WomanMentalism, Magic and Mystery are three very different things – at least in our tattered book.  We have never gotten into trouble with Magic and Mystery but on a couple of occasions have experienced harsh but understandable reactions from Mentalism.

First of all, we are out of the Mentalism biz.  It used to be the cool thing around the time of people bending things and using specially patterned cards to read minds.  There was a time in our business when everyone claimed they could read minds.  Why they did that was always a mystery (little “m” mystery) to us.  It gained them some notoriety but it would seem to invite constant challenges.

Slowly the world of Mentalism evolved to not claiming to be capable of reading minds.  There were some who continued to make the claims but they were now considered psychics and not Mentalists.  We were always in the Mentalism camp – back during our Mentalism days.  We would, contrary to psychics, affirmatively tell audiences we cannot read minds.  We could influence choices and perhaps pick up tells given by volunteers but never, ever could we read minds.

Except one time.

The following story is an amalgam of two events to protect the innocent and make our point.

We performed what Magicians would call a one-in-a-million shot.  Our hole card is the Four of Hearts.  We don’t know why but it seems like a good even number and has pretty hearts that can be read from the back of the audience.  We were performing for some Boy Scouts and held an over-sized card before us and asked a woman in the far back to name a card.  Our intention was to fail to have predicted the card and then go about our act explaining why we do not claim Mentalism power.

She called out in a loud and clear voice, “The Four of Hearts!”

We were far less mature then.

We should have joked it off, not shown the card, and said that was why we did not claim to have special powers.  But we couldn’t resist.  We milked the moment and when we finally turned the card to face the audience, there was true amazement.  Unfortunately, there was also deep concern in the heart of the woman – the mother of one of a young scout.

She asked us almost immediately after finishing our routine, how we could possibly know the card.  She had told no one and didn’t even know she was going to be a volunteer.  Again, we were immature and in need of validation; even at the cost of someone else’s emotional toil.

“I don’t know for sure, we have a talent to read minds sometimes,” we said proudly.

It wasn’t true and still isn’t.  We can’t read minds.  We can’t even read fortune cookies without bifocals.  We do have a very special talent in reading The Racing Form but our mounting losses over the years have proven that talent does not lead to accurate predictions of horse races.

The scout mom became upset.  She asked if we could read her mind at that very moment.  We paused as if trying to gather psychic messages and had to admit that we could not.  But now she did not believe us.  We were lying and reading minds.  A very bad combination at a scout meeting.

“The Bible is against false prophets,” she told us as she took her boy behind her back and walked away from us.

We felt terrible.  Horrible.  We had offended – unnecessarily but for our own self-aggrandizement – a seemingly innocent, concerned mother and likely her son.

That is where the Mystery comes into the equation.  Magic, to us, is clean.  Things vanish, appear, and change shape or quality.  Birds come from places you would least expect and disappear into places far too small for them.  Magic is the kind of thing you would do (or we would do) for children, teens, adults and even people our age.  Mentalism requires some advanced thinking on the part of the audience and if introduced as a real power can cause real concern.

We don’t want to concern anyone with our act.  We do our double-lifts, false shuffles, second deals and what passes for a bottom deal and no one is emotionally concerned.  We do a short card divination but never describe it as Mentalism.  It is merely a demonstration of influence and picking up “tells.”

There are performers with more experience and ability than us.  They would handle the troop mother incident in a far better manner.  Perhaps they could even devise a method of proclaiming psychic powers that would cause no concern.  We lack those abilities.  But we can drink whole milk without having stomach or intestinal upset so we are all blessed in different ways.  (We are not saying and would never say all self-proclaimed psychics are lactose intolerant; only that most are and we are not).

The Mystery is why we would do such a thing?  Why would we concern a troop mom by persisting in the “gag” and asserting an ability we do not have and have never possessed?  We learned our lesson years ago but pass it along for those starting out in our wonderful Art.  There are very real consequences to what we do and how we choose to entertain.

The Problem with Magic is Our Perception

Inside Magic Image of Favorite Melvin the MagicianUntil recently, we thought there was a problem with being a magician.

In our youth, we participated (but never won or even came close to winning) talent contests.  Singers and modern interpretive dancers usually got the first, second and third prizes.  We stood on stage at the end singing the then-popular talent show song “Up with People” and tried to match our dance steps with those around us – in the back row of the talent for the evening.

As we aged – like a fine ball of wine or a bottle of cheese – we thought often about the differences between the variety acts.  If a singer is not a good singer, she or he can still sing.  The audience will wait the three minutes for the song to end and applaud politely.

If a dancer is a bad dancer, the audience will do the same.  But if a magician is a really bad magician, he or she is not performing magic at all.  He or she is just doing things on stage that have no amazing effect on the audience.  If a magician exposes a trick, there is no magic.  It is not like the situation of a bad singer or horrible dancer.  They are still singing and dancing.  The magician is just opening and closing boxes, sticking things into or pulling them out of tubes or holding his or her hand awkwardly whilst pointing at the other paw.

The worst-case scenario for the magician is an audience that will not play along.  A card magician faced with an audience member who will not take a card; or who will take a card and then promptly forgets it.  Singers do not face this problem.  There may be audience members who want to sing with the performer from their position in the audience, and that is usually welcomed.  They even have a term for it – a sing-along.

Additionally, we doubt there are relatively few singers or dancers accused of being in league with Satan.  We don’t get that accusation as much as we used to; perhaps because we perform in the amateur rooms at the Magic Castle and folks coming to the Magic Castle either do not believe all magicians are in league with Satan or they do believe it and it does not occur to them to mention it.

Singers and dancers are accused of satanic links only when their lyrics or dance steps directly reference satanic sources.  Actually, we can’t think of a recent dance act accused of being inspired by Satan since the late 1950’s when the Blink Twins were thought to be “Stewardesses to Hell” because of their dance routine where they allegedly “invited the audience to take a flight to the ‘Hottest Place on Earth.’”

We spoke with Sandra Blink in the late 1960’s and she said the controversy was “ridiculous but did bring additional bookings” in the Southeastern states.  They even had little devil tails added to their stewardess uniforms, she said.  The tails added nothing to the act and were soon dropped because of the pain they would occasionally cause when they did splits on the “runway” portion of the stage.  Ironically, Sandra was the older of the Blink Twins.  She was two years older than her sister, Samantha, who passed away in 1965.  Our point is that they weren’t really twins.

Additionally, we would note for the record that the “Hottest Place on Earth” could not be Hell because that is thought by most religions to be someplace other than on earth.

Rich magicians – and we know of one or two – have the added problem of flaunting their wealth.  A singer or dancer can wear rich looking clothes but then, again, so does the average magician.  Many wear tuxedos or fine dresses as part of their performance.  Even the most expensive deck of cards is within the price range of the poorest magician.  We’ve seen great magicians kill with a roll of toilet paper.  There is no easy way to demonstrate to the assembled crowd that you, the magician, are richer than them.

We were performing recently for a very nice crowd.  They had diamonds and fancy bags made by people in Europe and were wearing evening wear we could only dream of owning – the male evening wear especially.   All we had was a deck of cards and a used, worn deck at that.  Sure, we spent $3.75 for the deck and added accouterments that cost us an extra $1.25, but there wasn’t much else we could do to show that we deserved to be in the company of very rich people.  We tried to use big words and talked about performing around the world (not that we have but we are not above lying to impress a stranger) but at the end of the night, we felt we had failed in our mission to demonstrate that we deserved to be in the company of those people we wanted to entertain.

But the evening was saved by a drunk audience member who slurred/whispered something complimentary towards us.  And, surprisingly, that was enough.  We dropped at that moment our jealousy of the dancers, the singers, the rich purse owners, and fine dressers.  We had, with our gimmicked deck, impressed one person.  It did not matter that the speaker could not form consonants or conjugate – who were we to judge?  All that mattered was one person was impressed and apparently entertained.  We realized at that moment that having low standards for satisfaction in one’s work is a blessing and we have been so very blessed.

Dr. Derek Livingston’s Reflection on Danger of Magic & Science

Inside Magic Image of Dr. Livingston Performing in his Retirement“Our focus is sharp, but our light faded,” so wrote the famous, or perhaps infamous scientist and magician Derek Livingston in 1965. The man commonly associated with the dangers of quack-science or a magician’s claims of super-natural powers, was born on this day in 1936.

Dr. Livingston’s phrase had many possible meanings but all were tied to his confusion of magic and science.

Dr. Livingston’s fame and infamy arise from the same experiments in the late 1950s and 1960s with laser technology (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) as well as his life-long love for magic.

Dr. Livingston worked his way through the distinguished and ivy-draped halls of the country’s finest schools. He was not from a wealthy family or noble ancestry but relied upon the kindness of others for his housing, food and supplies. In 1955, the then Mr. Livingston, took up work at the prestigious Bell
Labs whilst he considered the question of light’s structure. Was light made up of waves or particles?

He supplemented his income by performing magic shows for co-workers and their families in Murray Hill, New Jersey. He was known for his deft sleight-of-hand and charisma. His show was billed as “lasts 20 minutes, more than an hour’s worth of magic, you’ll remember for a lifetime.”

It was an old question. Prior to Sir Isaac Newton’s corpuscular theory, light was thought to be made up of particles. Newton demonstrated his wave theory by showing light could be reflected and refracted with mirrors and prisms.

So great was Newton’s legend that none dared to challenge his theory until early in the 1800s. Light is made up of waves, suggested some scientists. Their proof? When light is split into apparent constituent parts, it can be made to interfere with itself.

Just as waves going in one direction can be “cancelled out” by the same size waves going the opposite direction, light properly cast on itself could cause the lack of light.

Einstein postulated that as later proven by breath mint technology, light can be made up of two things at once. Light is a wave when one is looking to test its wave properties but exhibits particle characteristics when testing for particles.

This postulation gave support for quantum mechanics and our modern understanding of light, particle physics, and even scientific inquiry.

But back to Dr. Livingston. The good doctor studied light and its properties with the single-minded determination of a man possessed. He was particularly excited (pun intended) by the new field of lasers. In 1958, two Bell Labs scientists released a paper demonstrating that it was possible to build a functioning laser. (Physical Review v. 112, issue 6, “Infrared and Optical Masers,” A. L. Schawlow and C. H. Townes, Bell Telephone Laboratories).

Dr. Livingston’s loyalty for Bell Labs was evidenced in his public support for their patent application over the later-vindicated claims of Dr. Gordon Gould of Columbia University. (Dr. Gould challenged Bell Labs’ patent claims. It took 20 years, but he was finally awarded the patent rights for their patent application over the later-vindicated claims of Dr. Gordon  Gould of Columbia University. (Dr. Gould challenged Bell Labs’ patent claims. It took 20 years, but he was finally awarded the patent rights – see article in “MIT Inventor of the Week,” January 1998; List of Dr. Gould’s patents related to the laser from 1975 forward here). He spent his own funds to advertise support for Bell Labs’ position.

But back to the connection with magic.

Dr. Livingston struggled to find a way to incorporate his obsession with the nature of light, love of the new laser technology, and magic. He initially offered a public lecture for civic groups and schools where he discussed the newest laser/maser technology and used magic to enhance the demonstration. A
laser in 1965 weighed over 22 pounds and required an enormous power source.After months of lugging the “portable laser” from lecture to lecture, Dr. Livingston decided to replace the real thing with a light-weight prop and use magic techniques to duplicate the effects of the laser beam.

The lecture was a hit and his aching back recovered from its painful and repeated insult. When demonstrating the real laser, Dr. Livingston would demonstrate its awesome and precise power by igniting paper held by a spectator, lighting a cigarette in the mouth of another spectator (without burning the volunteer’s face or lips), carve the host’s name into plywood, and measure the
distance of any moving object (without harming the object).

Using magic methods, he was able to duplicate these effects but instead of a high-powered laser, he needed only a pen-light encased in a plastic “gun” device. Dr. Livingston never viewed his demonstrations as fraudulent but he also never advised his audience the effects were caused by magic tricks rather than laser science.

There are many articles written about Dr. Livingston’s arrest and conviction following the New York World’s Fair and this essay will not repeat those sordid details here. What has not been covered previously, is the psychological and emotional trauma Dr. Livingston suffered in the days prior to his arrest on the fair grounds.

Dr. Livingston’s understanding of laser technology was capped when he left the research field and entered into entertainment. At the time of his arrest and the alleged “Mass Laser Burns,” Dr. Livingston had no idea how far laser technology had progressed since 1960. He still carried his “laser gun” and magic show, and still carried on his charade of demonstrating the effective power of the space-age technology.

As an adjunct to one of the corporate pavilion set-ups, Dr. Livingston offered 12 demonstrations a day to interested laymen from around the world. It is remarkable he was not challenged by a scientist during the first few months of his appearance at the World’s Fair.

Dr. Livingston’s repertoire had grown from lighting, burning, and measuring things with the “laser gun” to effecting miraculous cures and changing the very essence of items.

Using a slightly modified Dove Pan trick, he was able to light a fire in the pan, extinguish the fire by covering it, and producing a live rabbit from the pan. With the help of a modified Bengal Net trick, he demonstrated the ability of the laser to “vaporize” anything in its beam. The previously produced rabbit was loaded into the net, the beam was fired at the bunny, the net dropped open and the bunny had vanished.

He also used the laser beam to help cut and restore rope, open and immediately and seamlessly fuse steel rings (ala Chinese Linking Rings), bring an apparently dead pigeon and rabbit back to life (using the well-known “animal hypnotism techniques”), and finally to read the thoughts of spectators.

It was this last effect that brought him much attention and ultimately tragedy.

Modern psychics have considered Dr. Livingston’s methods for mind-reading. They uniformly agree the techniques were basic (essentially center-tear and one-ahead) but the presentation was breath-taking.

On July 2nd 1965, Dr. Livingston was confronted with a choice whether to reveal his magic secrets or affirmatively commit fraud. He chose the latter and paid dearly.

The following is taken from reports in the local newspapers of the day as well as police investigation reports:

Dr. Livingston began his demonstration the way he always began. He gave a  short description of the “concentrated and focused” power of laser light beams.

With the flash of a beam from his “laser gun” he started a small fire in the dove pan and produced the rabbit. So far, so good.

In the next portion of the lecture, Dr. Livingston would show the laser’s enormous potential for weapon technology by making the bunny vanish in a puff of vaporized smoke. Witnesses said they could actually smell what they thought was an animal burning. These reports are likely evidence of the power of suggestion. There is nothing to indicate the rabbit was hurt in any manner.

The last portion of the lecture offered spectators a “glimpse into tomorrow’s laser.” It was at this point that the bunny (possibly the same one from the Bengal Net but there is no record of this) and pigeon were “killed” by the beam and then then brought back to life with a different hued beam.

The response to this section was always strong but on this sweltering July day, the reaction was near hysteria. The following from a witness as captured in the police report:

“Then he made the rabbit come alive and the rabbit seemed to be fine and breathing. We were all amazed and started to applaud like we have (sic) just seen a magic trick or a miracle. A lady near me said something I didn’t hear but it was loud enough to hear over the clapping. She pushed through the crowd up to the stage, up front and told him she had some tumor or something he needed to kill with the laser gun. He said he wouldn’t use it for that purpose because it was unethical.”

From another witness, we know the crowd encouraged Dr. Livingston to carry through with the ad-hoc surgery.

“We all yelled, ‘help her!’ And he kept saying ‘No, No!’ Another lady came up and said she had a growth in her that was causing her to bleed and he needed to help her too. He kept saying ‘No, No!’ and was trying to get off the stage towards the fire exit on the right.

“The first lady jumped up to the stage and went to grab the gun from him to shoot it herself, I think. He was fighting her to see who could hold it and was trying to keep it from going off or hurt anyone. But she was real strong and angry and she got the gun away from him and pointed it at her stomach or around there and shot herself with it for a long time ’til he got it back.

“We all smelled the same smell that we smelled when the rabbit got lasered the first time so we thought something went wrong or that she was hurt from it. The lady let go of his arms and fell on the stage and hit her head on the table on the way down. She was knocked out but I didn’t know if she was knocked out from the head hit or the laser beam.”

We do know from press reports that the first woman was unconscious for much of the ensuing activity and did not regain consciousness until she arrived at the medical pavilion a half-hour later. The second woman took advantage of the first woman’s fall to take the laser gun from Dr. Livingston and she too used it on herself. There was a similar odor produced and she fell unconscious to the stage but was quickly revived.

More audience members came forward and stormed the stage demanding they be healed. Dr. Livingston said later he must have been caught up in the hysteria to do what he did next.

As the crowd approached, Dr. Livingston pointed the “laser gun” at the first few spectators and told them to stand back or he would “vaporize them.” The crowd stopped and some jumped off the stage to flee. A few men and women remained but did not progress further. There was an eerie silence as three women and two men faced Dr. Livingston. The doctor and the five audience members were about ten feet apart. The two unconscious women were in a heap between the opposing sides.

Dr. Livingston said in court documents later that the moment felt like “the old west, like the quiet before the shoot-out at the OK Corral.” One of the women took a step forward and Dr. Livingston pointed the gun towards her and “fired.”

The same odor was produced, and the woman dropped to the stage. Dr. Livingston the fired the gun at the remaining four on stage and one-by-one, they fell to the stage amidst the smell of vaporized matter.

Before a second wave of the mob could attack, Dr. Livingston tried to escape through a curtain at the back of the stage but was apprehended by New York police.

Later forensic examination of the “laser gun” proved it was nothing more than the pen-light with a connection to the trigger of a plastic gun body. Experts for both the prosecution and defense agreed the gun could not have injured any of the victims and that their reaction was purely a function of their hysteria.

“It was similar to mass hypnosis. They believed so fervently this gun was real, they fainted from ‘being shot.'”

Dr. Livingston wrote a portion of his attorney’s closing argument; including his now famous defense “Our focus is sharp, but our light faded.” Some wondered if he was making a philosophical point, giving an assessment of his legal defense, or just trying to explain his defense.

Although Dr. Livingston was convicted on seven of the eight counts, those seven charges were misdemeanors relating to fraud in shows or exhibitions. The eight count was essentially a battery charge and the court dismissed the charge after hearing the evidence. Under the law, a battery consists of the “unwanted touching or striking of one person by another, with the intention of bringing about a harmful or offensive contact.” The court ruled the gun could not have caused harm to the victims and there could not have been a battery.

The lawyer in us wonders why the prosecutor did not charge Dr. Livingston with assault rather than or in conjunction with the battery count. Assault does not require a physical touching or striking but only an act that causes a victim to believe he or she will be injured, a threat of physical harm. Perhaps the New York Criminal Code in 1965 included the language found in some versions of assault requiring the attacker to have the physical ability or the means to carry out the threat.

Dr. Livingston served just two months in the city jail for his offenses. His victims recovered from their “laser burns” on the day of the incident. Sadly, the first woman on stage, later died believing she had been cured by the laser beam. She was struck by a streetcar six weeks later while returning from a “celebration of her cure.” The autopsy found no evidence of any tumor within her body.

There is no documentation that a physician ever told her she was dying of a cancerous tumor and some have speculated her belief was unfounded but seemed as real to her as the “laser gun.” There are a few commentators who suggest she did indeed have a tumor and either by miracle or placebo was “cured” by the soft glow of a pen-light.

Dr. Livingston traveled to Europe for a few years after his release and gave a new lecture about the power of suggestion and the danger of charlatans. He returned to the United States in 1972 and gave an updated version of the same lecture for the next five or six years before settling down in Bisbee, Arizona — just south of Tombstone, the site of the shoot-out at the OK Corral — an event he referenced in describing the “laser burn” incident.

Dr. Livingston never married and had no close friends or family. He was a prolific author of magic books and tricks under various pseudonyms. Some of his effects can still be seen in stage shows performed in Las Vegas. Because he did not publish under his real name, few magicians ever linked the inventor of so many unique effects with the events of July 2nd 1965. Dr. Livingston wrote that he had received enough publicity in his life and preferred living outside the limelight.

He ultimately passed away in his sleep on June 11th, 2000.  A slightly corroded penlight was found under his pillow.

Our Irish Magic Heritage

Inside Magic Image of James Joyce MagicianWe are almost never asked about our proud Irish heritage; likely because people avoid making eye contact with us after shows and some have gone to the extreme of faking (we think) illness to quickly depart the performing area as soon as we complete our standard 80 minutes.

Yet, despite never being asked, we thought it appropriate to share our story with our kind reader(s) of Inside Magic.

We descend from a long line of magicians who willingly fabricate their lineage – each adding to stories of greatness as the generations rolled through the years and across the Atlantic.

Our great, great, great step-mother, Maeve Hardy was the assistant to Ireland’s third or fourth greatest street magician for the time, Buster Seamus who performed under the stage name, Busted Seams.

At the time, there were very few streets in Ireland for a performer to utilize so Buster would waddle (he was very heavy, hence the stage name) up and down dirt roads looking for intersections and audiences.  He was delighted to find Dublin after several years of wandering and that was where he met the matriarch of our proud family.

They shared a love for entertaining, drinking, fine art and horse racing.  It was natural that they would develop an act that included none of those loves.  Buster performed the standard street magic fare: Cups and Balls, the Chop Cup, Multiplying Balls, Cups from Nowhere, Balls from Nowhere and, their finale, Hippity Hop Rabbits.

This was a different time.  Magicians could not buy tricks in magic stores because they did not exist and the Internet was apparently unavailable in Dublin.  Consequently, Maeve and Buster made their own props and are credited with innovations still used today.  For instance, their Cups and Balls were made from allegedly gold chalices they “found” whilst performing at a local church.  The balls were hand knitted by Maeve from wool taken from their pet sheep, Woolina.  Buster’s wand was a long wooden dowel “snapped from the face of a lying, Italian, wooden boy who wouldn’t keep his yap shut during our act,” wrote Maeve.

But it was their Hippity Hop Rabbits that set them apart from the rest of the magicians working at the time.  They used real rabbits, sedated with “a wee bit of ale” and “affixed” to small placards.  The trick delighted or horrified audiences depending upon the crowd’s willingness to “go along with the gag” and the potency of the pre-show ale administered to the bunnies.

On a fateful day just outside of Trinity College in the heart of Dublin, Maeve and Buster performed for a “taciturn, dour man with glasses and a nasty breath.”  That man was James Joyce.  The great author watched their show throughout the day and noticed how the routine did not change regardless of the audience or their reaction.  He wanted to help the couple and offered to write bits for them for a “kind word as a reference for future writing jobs.”

Maeve and Buster understood this to mean he would work for free and took him up on the offer.

It was Mr. Joyce who first suggested they ditch the real rabbits and use “painted images of the vermin on placards” and to shorten the trick to a few minutes.  The suggestion was genius and gave the act a new sense of purpose and entertainment value.  It also provided some respite from the angry complaints they would occasionally receive from “do-gooders” who would “spit hateful and nasty things at them for the sake of the bunnies.”

Some of the crowds wanted the couple to free Woolina as well, but for reasons never really discussed in our family, Buster was adamant that “the beautiful creature would remain always close.”

Mr. Joyce wrote several jokes for the couple as well.  His work was acerbic, more biting.

“Is that your head or is ye neck blowing bubbles?”

“This trick is foreign, I got it from a broad.”

“Want to know how to keep a Dubliner in suspense? I’ll tell ye on the morrow.”

Mr. Joyce wanted to learn magic and join the act.  He did a mean series of card manipulations with beautiful split fans, back and front palming, diminishing cards and color changes.  All were impressed with his skill but Buster and Maeve dropped him from the troupe.  Yes, they hated sharing their meager proceeds with a third person but they also objected to his constant, stream-of-consciousness narration during the tricks.

“Just shut up and do the tricks,” Buster yelled at the bespectacled author as he performed in front of a fairly large crowd.

“That’s what she said!” replied Mr. Joyce.

The crowd roared with derisive laughter and commented that Mr. Joyce had “burned Buster but good.”

Buster was humiliated. Mr. Joyce was elated.  He felt the adrenaline rush that comes with succeeding in front of an audience.  He then used his new catch line “Aye, that’s what she said!” incessantly.  Audiences never tired of it.  Buster and Maeve, on the other hand, grew impatient and resentful.  They hated being the foil.

They agreed to go their separate ways on this very day, St. Patrick’s Day, so many years ago.  Mr. Joyce went on to write novels and occasionally performed his manipulation act as an interlude during his public readings of his stories.  Audiences seemed to enjoy his “incessant jabbering” as he worked the card miracles.

Mr. Joyce never fully left magic and was credited for the invention of several items still used today such as: Torn and Restored Newspaper, Glorpy (or “Hyrum the Hilarious Hank”), Sucker Sliding Die Box, the Whoopie Cushion and, of course Hippity Hop Rabbits.

Maeve and Buster were married but a few years before he passed away due to a gas explosion – an internal one.  He was a very heavy man who ate poorly and experimented with fire-eating.

Maeve migrated to the US where she married a young performer who would later become the scion of our magic family, Thomas “Big Tom” Hardy.

And so on this special day for Irish and those who want to be Irish, we remember our proud history.

Our Magic Plan for the LA Marathon

Inside Magic Mile Marker on LA Marathon Course Pure genius is how we modestly describe our latest development in bringing our act to the vast, unwashed and sweaty masses of Southern California.
We have done our research and determined some interesting facts about the greater Hollywood area: there are several movie and television studios within an Uber ride from the Magic Castle, many people who work at high-levels in popular media are health conscious and run to stay in shape, and a substantial subset of moguls and moguls-to-be (we think they are affectionately called “mogulettes”) will be in the Los Angeles Marathon this Sunday.
We think you see where we are going with this.
We have been working on an act we can perform for the high-fliers as they run the marathon course right by our spacious studio apartment near the bakery for dogs on historic Santa Monica Boulevard.
Because the marathon will be run outdoors, we have eliminated several effects from our tentative set-list including: our barehanded dove production, our gloved-handed falcon production, our take off on the classic Think-a-Drink we perform with scratch-and-sniff imbued playing cards under the title Think-a-Stink, the Kellar Spirit Cabinet and Kevin James’ Snowstorm.
Our research confirmed that by the time the throng of influence-wielding runners reach the water station adjacent to our staked-out position, they will have run 17.3 miles. They will likely be pretty tired and because it is supposed to be a very hot day, they will probably be thirsty too. As they slow to grab a cup of what scientists inexplicably call H2O, we will be there with our well-rehearsed abbreviated routine ready to entertain.
The genius part of our plan – other than what we have set forth so far – is that as the marathon proceeds, the slower runners tend to follow the faster runners. So, yes, we won’t be able to do our full routine for the Kenyan front-runners that should pass our table just minutes after the race begins, but after about two hours, we will have gobs of heaving, perspiring audiences filing past.
Our research also revealed that professional marathoners do not tend to be members of upper-management in the major studios. World-class runners have to focus on things like training, eating enough to maintain their ideal weight and studying the latest techniques in not dropping dead whilst enduring horrible physical torture.
Studio moguls, on the other hand, are often able to run 17.2 miles in 3 to 4 hours. What a treat they will have when they hit what we are calling The Magic Mile Marker®.
Because our time with each runner will be limited, we have cut down much of our opening monologue. Yes, we’ll still do our beloved bits about our brush with mental illness, how unattractive the last audience was and, of course, how airline food is terrible. But then, it is right into the good stuff. By meeting up with the runner/audience as they approach the water station, we can lengthen our time together, giving them time to select a card, return it to deck and watch with delight as we go into our wacky Ambitious Card routine.
As our fan knows, our original take on this classic card trick – which we cleverly call, Oh, No, Not Again! – usually lasts about 90 minutes and involves revelations from all parts of what some less-attentive audience members believe is a well-shuffled deck. We have shortened it to 90 seconds by limiting it to just seven reveals.
Even a runner cannot jog in place for all 90 seconds, we can run along with them and finish the bit with our big finale where their card ends up in small box, inside a bigger box, inside a handkerchief removed from our specially-tailored silk MC Hammer sultan pants. Because of the ingenious method in which we perform this effect, it resets almost instantly.
We expect this to be a big hit and it will probably be pilfered by less-creative magicians but we do not care. As we say during cold and flu season, “there’s a lot more where that came from.”
See you Sunday!